Wheelhouse Weekly – December 05, 2002

December 5th 2002


– Bridging the Information Gap With E-News You Can Use –

Volume 6 . . . . . Number 49. . . . . December 6, 2002






The current issue of the US Navy’s Military Sealift Command’s publication Sealift prominently features several MM&P-crewed vessels.

The USNS BOB HOPE and USNS FISHER are featured in the cover story that details how the two 950-ft large, medium-speed, roll-on/roll-off (LSMR) vessels were each loaded with 200,000 square feet of cargo at the Naval Weapons Station in Charleston, SC. Their spacious seven decks, interior ramps, stern ramp and two 110-ton single-pedestal cranes ease the loading and off-loading of tanks, trucks and other out-sized military equipment.

It took just 48 hours to load the BOB HOPE with more than 1,000 pieces of US Army equipment, much of it rolling stock. The vessel, usually kept in four-day reduced operating status, was activated in just three days, a full day ahead of schedule.

“In the Surge Sealift Program, MSC expects us to perform on short notice,” said Capt. John Kelley, master of the BOB HOPE. “The load-out went very well. I attribute this excellent turnout to the fact that MSC authorized an additional mate during the loading and off-loading process. This actually doubled our vigilance and allowed us to supervise two or three different areas at once.”

Capt. Kelly also noted that “the BOB HOPE had the honor and privilege of being among the first surge activations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.”


MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



All MM&P applicants and recent retirees should make sure that MM&P HQ is aware of their current address, the validity of their license, if they have STCW-95.

This info is needed since it is anticipated that merchant marine personnel will be one of the key assets needed to conduct any large scale operation in the Middle East. The Maritime Administration and the Military Sealift Command are currently focusing on deployment needs.

Further info is available by contacting Assistant to the President Mike Rodriguez at MM&P HQ at phone: 410-850-8700 ext. 23; Email: Info is also available on this page under “Reminders“.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



The MM&P’s Gisele Schmidt Fund will close December 31

Gisele, 21, is the daughter of long-time member Gary Schmidt and was paralyzed as the result of a tragic auto accident earlier this year. Tragically, her brother was killed in another auto accident two years ago.

The purpose of the fund is to help with medical expenses not covered under the MM&P Health & Benefit Plan. Because Gisele has no control below her neck, she requires extensive care and support that has been lovingly given by her family and friends. The MM&P’s Gisele Schmidt Fund also assists in the efforts to help her and her family obtain the specialty items she needs for everyday living.

In the spirit of the season, MM&P members are encouraged to contribute generously. The Union is absorbing costs associated with administration of the fund so that all proceeds will directly benefit Gisele.

Contributions may be made until December 31, 2002, payable to the:

Gisele Schmidt Fund c/o MM&P 700 Maritime Blvd. Linthicum Heights, MD 21090

Questions may be directed to John Gorman, MM&P Comptroller, at or by calling 410-850-8700 x12.


MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



A memorial fund has been established in the memory of recently deceased MM&P member Jerry Backman. Jerry shipped out of San Francisco and was 49-years old at the time of his tragic death as the result of an auto accident. Jerry leaves a widow and two children.

Donations in memory of Jerry will be used to assist with the education of his children, a 22-year old daughter and a 15-year old son. The Backman family is privately managing the fund. They are most appreciative of all the messages expressing sympathy and the positive stories from his shipmates and friends.

Contributions may be sent to:

The Jerry B. Backman Memorial Fund c/o Bank of the West 2900 Railroad Avenue Pittsburg, CA 94565


MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



The 2002 annual meeting of the Masters, Mates & Pilots Federal Credit Union will be held on Wednesday, December 18, 2002, at 10:00 AM. The meeting will be held in the cafeteria of the Plans building. All interested members are asked to attend. There will be a drawing for a door prize.

At the meeting, Credit Committee, Supervisory Committee and Treasurer’s reports will be presented on the general status of the Credit Union. During the meeting, the floor will be opened for individuals wishing to volunteer to serve on the board of directors, or on one of the committees.

There is currently one vacancy on the board of directors. Credit Union members in the greater Baltimore area are encouraged to consider volunteering. Members interested in serving in one of these capacities may also contact the Credit Union directly for more info.


MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



  • Do you want an easy way to grow your savings?
  • Do you want an easier way to make deposits to your Masters, Mates & Pilots Federal Credit Union account?

Consider establishing payroll or pension direct deposit.

Many employers allow you to directly deposit your pay into several different financial institutions. Trinity Management, Strong America, Moran Towing of Florida, and McAllister Brothers are among the MM&P-contracted companies that already provide for employees to deposit funds directly into the MM&P Federal Credit Union.

MM&P Health & Benefit Plans Pensioners and A&G Region Pensioners may have deductions made directly from their pension check to their Credit Union account. In addition, employees of MM&P, Plans, MITAGS and MIRAID are also eligible for payroll deduction directly into their Credit Union account.

Add to your savings by paying yourself first! Contact your payroll office to establish Credit Union direct deposit or to find out if this is available for you. For additional details or to get answers to your questions on this or other MM&P Federal Credit Union programs, contact Kathy Klisavage, Credit Union Manager, toll-free at 1-800-382-7777 or by Email at



MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



Three major international organizations, the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), Greenpeace International and the World Wildlife Fund have taken the unusual step of joining forces to appeal to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan for fundamental reform of the worldwide shipping industry.

They are calling on the UN to end what they called “the web of secrecy behind the human and environmental tragedies of which the PRESTIGE is the latest example.” The flag-of-convenience tankship carrying more than 20 million gallons of fuel oil broke in two off northwest Spain and sank two weeks ago, creating an expanding environmental disaster.

Now resting two miles down on the Atlantic floor, the PRESTIGE continues to leak massive amounts of oil. Many miles of the pristine Spanish coastline have already been blacked with thick, gooey globs of fuel oil killing thousands of birds and other wildlife.

Conservationists warn the wreckage is like an environmental “time bomb”.

If the tanker loses its entire cargo of fuel oil, the spill would be nearly twice the size of the 1989 EXXON VALDEZ disaster in Alaska. Some 10.92 million gallons of crude oil were lost from the VALDEZ.

In a letter to the UN’s Annan, Greenpeace, the ITF and WWF note that the PRESTIGE, the latest in a long line of tankship accidents, is “a symptom of much deeper problems. Unless the root causes of the problem are addressed sub-standard ships will continue to sink, threatening lives, the marine and coastal environment, and the economies of affected communities.”

They call for a UN task force to be established to ensure that existing regulations are properly policed and a blind eye is no longer turned to those phony flag states who flout all the rules of oversight and inspection of “their” ships. The three organizations are also calling for urgent and fundamental changes to the way that global shipping is operated and regulated to eliminate sub-standard shipping and practices.

ITF General Secretary David Cockroft commented:

“The PRESTIGE is just one symptom of what’s wrong with shipping. Ultimately, no doubt remains: it was too old and too heavily repaired to still be doing what it was doing. To put a ship that old in those waters in winter was madness.”

He continued:

“And there are other, much worse examples of a something rotten festering in modern shipping, a culture that penalizes the many good ship operators by allowing the bad ones to undercut them. Week-in and week-out seafarers die on third rate ships with third-rate flags and the eyes of the world look the other way. It takes something like the PRESTIGE to turn a spotlight on the vital need for real and immediate change.”

For more info on the growing PRESTIGE environmental disaster and the scourge of phony flag-of-convenience ship registries visit the ITF website at:



MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



SOS Incorporated, manufacturer of SOSPENDERS brand life jackets has alerted the USCG and the public that they have recalled approximately 7,200 automatic inflatable personal flotation devices (PFDs).

The purpose of this recall is to investigate a safety defect involving the Hammar model MA1 Manual/Automatic inflators. Approximately 300 defective Hammar units in one lot of 500 were loaded incorrectly and will not inflate the vest. SOSpenders Corp. has made the decision to recall all Hammar products for 100-percent safety inspection.

The USCG and SOS Inc. stress that is important for consumers to stop using the PFDs immediately and return them to SOS.

Important info to assist in the identification of potential defective units and what to do when units are identified is available from two websites:

Questions regarding this recall may be addressed to Daniel McCormick of the USCG at or 202-267-2713.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



All parties are at the Union Hall unless otherwise noted.

East Coast

  • Boston Wednesday, December 18 12:00 noon K of C Hall 50 W. Schoolhouse St. Charlestown, MA
  • Norfolk Friday, December 13 12:00 noon
  • New York/New Jersey Wednesday, December 11 12:30 pm

Gulf Coast

  • New Orleans Wednesday, December 11 12:30 pm
  • Jacksonville Friday, December 13 12:30 pm
  • Houston Wednesday, December 18 12:30 pm
  • Miami/Port Everglades Friday, December 20 11:00 am

West Coast

  • Los Angeles/Long Beach Thursday, December 12 12:30 pm
  • San Francisco Friday, December 13, 12:30 pm Call the Union Hall for details: 415-777-5074
  • Seattle Tuesday, December 17 12:30 pm

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



Class Openings

Between now and the end of January 2003, seats are available in following courses:

  • 12/16-20: FF-ADV, CMM-ECDIS, CMM-ADVWX
  • 1/6-11: MED-DOT-DA
  • 1/13-17: CMM-VPEN
  • 1/20-24: SHS-BAS, CMM-ECDIS


Schedules, Course Info & Registration

Always check the MITAGS website for updated course availability. You can also check future schedules, review detailed course descriptions and register on-line or contact Admissions at or 443-989-3226.

Look for the “Course Cluster” weeks in the 2003 schedule. . .

“Refresher” week offering:

  • Radar Renewal
  • BST elements
  • HAZMAT renewal; and
  • sessions covering the admin requirements associated with license renewal, as well as tips on license exam preps

“Shipboard Management” week providing:

  • an ISM/Regulatory update
  • contingency planning
  • media response
  • maritime security; and
  • shipboard assessor training

“MSC” week with MSC certified courses in:

  • Environmental Protection
  • Anti-Terrorism (Level I)
  • CBRD Orientation; and
  • Damage Control


Damage Control & Small Arms

Starting in January, Military Sealift Command (MSC) courses in Damage Control (DC) & Small Arms (SMA) will be available at MITAGS as a package:

  • DC will be held January 23-24 (Thursday-Friday); and
  • SMA will be held January 27-30 (Monday-Thursday)

These courses are required for all LDOs on LMSRs and are highly recommended for all members. With the DC course being presented on the MITAGS campus, DC quotas will no longer be arranged at the MSC sites at San Diego, CA and Freehold, NJ.

Effective January 1, 2003, Damage Control and Small Arms will be on the list of courses available through the Trust Student Out-of-Eligibility Program.


MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



PMI will be providing DOT Training for D&A on the following dates and locations:

  • December 9: Houston
  • December 13: Seattle
  • December 16: San Francisco
  • December 17: Los Angeles
  • January 13: Honolulu
  • January 17: Seattle

The Pacific Maritime Institute will be running the programs necessary to upgrade from Able Seaman to Mate in January 2003. In order to attempt to fill their first courses, they are offering a 40-percent discount to mariners wishing to start their training in January.

For the latest up-to-date info on class schedules, visit the PMI website at



MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



 D O W

 N A S D A Q


-53.20 for the week


 -34.68 for the week
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Fidelity Magellan Fund (FAGX)


 Spartan US Equity Index Fund (FUSEX)



MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly

~ Reminders ~




MM&P International President Capt. Tim Brown and Executive Assistant Mike Rodriguez recently attended a meeting with the US Coast Guard, the Maritime Administration and the Military Sealift Command focusing on the assets needed to conduct an operation in the Middle East.

Deployment and time frames are still being discussed. Below is what the Union knows as of this time.

It is anticipated that merchant marine personnel will be key to this operation. MM&P, MEBA and AMO have a cooperative agreement so that if any of the unions’ contracted vessels need personnel and the contracted union cannot supply licensed marine officers, one of the other unions will staff these billets.

MM&P has sent letters to all MM&P applicants, to retirees who retired within the last 3 years, and retirees that retired within the last 4-7 years. The purpose of the letter is to ascertain your current address, the validity of your license, whether or not you have STCW-95, and other personnel data.

There are plans underway to provide a fast track STCW-95 course for those needing it as well as providing assistance in revalidating your license if it has expired.

In the case of retirees, you will be able to return to covered employment without the fear of exceeding the earnings limitation for health care. However, no additional pension credits will be provided for any service that you may render to your country during this emergency employment.

Since Desert Shield/Desert Storm, American Merchant Mariners have been provided with re-employment rights. These rights will insure that your present employer will give your current employment position back when you return from service with the MM&P in this type of deployment.


MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



With maritime security remaining a vital issue in the US and soon to be revisited at the International Maritime Organization’s December meeting, mariners should be aware that security info is available via the Internet.

The latest Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular (NVIC) available in Adobe Acrobat PDF format is circular 9-02 “Guidelines for Port Security Committees, and Port Security Plans For US Ports” and, more importantly, 10-02 “Security Guidelines For Vessels”. The latest hard copy issued, but not yet available on the Internet, is titled “Recommended Security Guidelines for Waterfront Facilities.

The 9-02 and 10-02 NVICs can be downloaded via accessing: and selecting “2000s” on the left and then clicking on the PDF icon on the right next to the 9-02 and 10-02 subject title. Read these NVICs carefully. This information is being supplied to the world at the IMO meeting in December.

Most of the responsibilities listed under 10-02 will most likely be assigned as collateral duties to a deck officer. With the existing workload licensed deck officers currently have, additional duties will make the LDOs job much more difficult and time-consuming.

Richard Plant, Director of Special Projects, has requested that the USCG IMO Delegation call for all port state authorities to review their certification of inspection (COI) manning requirements. In doing so, they should consider the present and future workloads that these regulations will impose on the crew.

Due consideration should also be given to whether additional unlicensed crew or LDOs are needed aboard foreign and domestic vessels to successfully complete the many tasks mandated under these new security proposals.


MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly





The Board of Trustees, based on recommendations by the Cost Containment Committee, adopted changes to the Health & Benefit Plan. The following changes will become effective January 1, 2003:

Annual Deductible

The current annual deductible of $150/$300 will be raised to $250/$500.

Out-of-Pocket Maximum

The current out of pocket maximum of $2,000 will be raised to $3,000.

Dental Reimbursement Levels

  • The Plan payment to in-network dental providers will go from 90% to 80%.
  • The Plan payment for out-of-network providers will go from 80% of UCR to 70% of UCR.
  • New contract with Delta Dental replaces Aetna/US Healthcare (Prudential Dental) agreement. See below for additional information.

Prescription Drug Program

Mail order drugs will be subject to a 20% co-pay for all single source brand name and generic drugs with a maximum out of pocket, per prescription, of $75.

For brand name drugs where the generic equivalent is available, the member will be responsible for paying the total cost of the difference between the brand name and the generic drug. The Plan will then pay 80% of the cost of the generic and the member will be responsible for the 20% up to a per prescription maximum of $75.

The Plan has also removed the mandatory mail order provision. This means that any prescription, regardless of the number of refills, can be obtained at a retail level but will be limited to a 30-day supply. However, obtaining maintenance medications through the mail order program may still be less expensive to you.

A synopsis of these changes and additional changes effective April 1, 2003 appears in the November-December 2002 issue of the MM&P’s Master, Mate & Pilot newspaper. The Plan Office has also mailed a summary of all changes, with examples, to Health & Benefit Plan participants.


Remember to notify the Plan office whenever you move or have a change of address. There are a number of important mailings scheduled for the next few months and we would like to keep all members well informed. You can fax your address changes to the Plan Office at 410-850-8655 or you can email them to the Plan Office at




This is a reminder that effective October 1, 2002, the MM&P Plan’s contract with Prudential Dental expired. Prudential was purchased by Aetna/US HealthCare in 2001 and could no longer offer the Plan the same type of fee-for-service arrangement as before.

In order to continue to offer Plan Participants an in-network dental benefit option, the Plan reviewed proposals from organizations that provide network dental services. After review, the Trustees approved a contract with Delta Dental, the largest provider of dental services in the US.

The Delta Dental Claims Processing Center in Mechanicsburg, PA, will handle claims administration for all MM&P eligible participants and dependents. This includes claims submitted by out of network dentists as well as those who are Delta Dental providers.

Plan participants who choose to go to a contracted provider will pay 10 percent of the contracted amount and the Plan will pay 90 percent. Participants will have access to all Delta providers in the Delta Premier Network option that includes over 133,000 dentists nationwide.



~ Where Does My Dentist Submit My Claims?

Effective October 1, 2002, all dental claims with dates of service on or after October 1, 2002, from both in and out-of-network providers, should be sent directly to: Delta Dental, One Delta Drive, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055-6999. Participants will receive a claim form in the mailing sent out by the Plan Office on August 11. Your dentist can copy this form and use it to submit all dental claims incurred on or after October 1, 2002.

~ How Do I Find A Delta Dentist?

You can locate participating dentists in your area in two ways. You can call 1-800-932-0783 from 8 AM to 8 PM Eastern Time, Monday-Friday, or you can sign on to the Delta website at Once you have signed on to the website, key on the bar marked “Pennsylvania”. (MM&P Plan members are enrolled in the Delta Premier Option through Delta Dental of Penn.) Next enter the search criteria to find participating Delta dentists in your area or enter your own dentist’s name to find out if he/she participates with the Premier network.



Delta Dental will coordinate with the Plan Office to transition all billing for “work in process”. This means that all root canals, orthodontia work and other staged procedures that are not completed under the old arrangement will be carried over and the remaining balance billing, for work performed on or after October 1, 2002 will be processed by Delta Dental.

It is important to remember that all work that has been pre-determined by Prudential/Aetna must be completed and billed with a billing date on or prior to September 30, 2002, in order to assure that your co-pay will remain the same as quoted in the initial pre-determination.

Any work started under the old Plan but billed for date of service on or after October 1, 2002 will be reimbursed according to whether the dentist is participating in the Delta Dental network. If your dentist is not a participating dentist, the balance billing will be paid at the out-of-network rate of 80 percent of the Plan’s UCR schedules.



All questions about any dental claims incurred on or after October 1, 2002, including claims submitted by out-of-network providers, should be directed to Delta Dental at 1-800-932-0783. You have been provided with a Delta claim form to forward to your dentist, however, your dentist may submit any standard dental billing form as long as the bill is sent directly to Delta at the above listed address.



Participants have been sent a brochure that includes a perforated generic identification card. This card lists the telephone number and the billing address for Delta. You are not required to carry an identification card because your social security number and birth date will identify you as an eligible participant in the Delta Dental Network.

It is important to remember that MM&P claims will be processed by Delta Dental of Pennsylvania. You or your dentist can access your eligibility by calling either the Plan Office or Delta Dental at 1-800-932-0783.

If you or your dentist have any questions, you can contact Delta Dental at 1-800-932-0783 from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday.

Plan members are identified by social security number and the Group Plan number for MM&P which is 7117.

Billing for both in and out of network claims should be submitted on standard dental billing forms and sent directly to Delta at

Delta Dental of Pennsylvania One Delta Drive Mechanicsburg, PA 17055

You can locate participating providers on-line at Masters, Mates and Pilots members have access to providers in all of the Delta networks.


MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly




MM&P’s General Executive Board met on October 3-4. One item of particular note is that the Offshore Advisory Committee established quotas for admittance to the Offshore Membership Group.

Effective October 4, 2002, no member of any membership group, including the Offshore Unlicensed Membership Group, may transfer into the Offshore Licensed Membership Group without having been a member of the organization for at least as long as the length of time that the lowest applicant admitted into membership has in the organization.

Please see your local Offshore Vice President for additional information.


MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



Members are reminded that the Masters, Mates & Pilots Federal Credit Union is offering vehicle loans as low as 5.25 percent. Rates range from 5.25 to 6.99 percent for terms of 24 to 60 months. It doesn’t matter if it’s for a new, used or a refinanced vehicle.

These rates are also in effect for new or used recreational vehicles, motorcycles or boats. Limited funds available at this rate, certain terms and conditions apply.

MM&P Federal Credit Union membership is open to all MM&P members, to all MM&P, MITAGS, MIRAID and Plans staff, and to their immediate families.

Rates and terms of offer are subject to change. Call Kathy Klisavage, Credit Union Manager, toll free 1-800-382-7777 or Email for all the details.


MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly

The MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly is the official electronic newsletter of the International Organization of Masters, Mates, and Pilots, ILA, AFL-CIO, 700 Maritime Blvd., Linthicum Heights, MD 21090-1941. Phone: 410-850-8700; Fax: 410-850-0973; Email: For further info or to subscribe contact John Peige at The Wheelhouse Weekly is sent via Email to MM&P-contracted vessels at sea, broadcast worldwide via FEC marine telex andis posted on our web page.

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